Acting CEO of JOY 94.9, James Hamilton, on donating to LGBTI charities and ensuring your generosity continues long after you are gone.

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I have heard Australians say they are a generous people.

As a recent immigrant to this amazing country, I tend to agree.

In my day job I have had the privilege of witnessing Australia’s big hearts at close range. And they are inspiring.

Every year at JOY, hundreds of volunteers donate their time and thousands of members gift their money to support Australia’s LGBTI+ radio station.

Together we are creating amazing radio – all with the mission of making Australia a more inclusive place to live.

Through my work at JOY, I recently became aware of another way our LGBTI+ family can help each other, and it’s a method of giving that may be more transformational and more powerful than anything else we do in our lives.

It’s called legacy giving, and it’s really simple.

It means taking the time to write a will, and then making a choice to leave a gift in that will to charity. Some people know it as bequesting, or gifts in will.

But whatever we call it, it’s something we should all be thinking about.

Research shows, however, that for every one hundred deaths in Australia, only seven result in a gift to charity. This rises to 30 for those who have no children.

Why are these figures so low?

Having witnessed Australian generosity up close, and knowing that 81 per cent of Australians already give to charity – I don’t believe it’s a lack of heart.

Perhaps it’s simply because death is something we don’t like to think about?

As LGBTI+ people, we are no strangers to death. In fact, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s made death and dying a defining experience for our community.

Thankfully, with medical advances and sexual health education, those dark days are in the past.

Perhaps it’s time, now, for us to have a new kind of conversation about death?

Last year I turned 42, and I decided to write a will.

Although I don’t plan on dying soon, the future is impossible to predict. Being single and having no children, I chose to leave everything I own to charity.

And I’m not alone in making a legacy gift in my will.

Last year at JOY, two incredibly generous members passed away, and each left a bequest to the station.

While we mourn the loss of old friends, their generosity ensures their big Australian hearts live on every day in support of our amazing LGBTI+ family.

This year, working in collaboration with Include a Charity, The Channel, and Pride Foundation, I am launching a new project called Rainbow Legacies.

The aim of this project is to help LGBTI+ Australians write a will, and then to think about leaving a gift in that will to one, or several, LGBTI+ charities.

If you, or your organisation, want to be part of this important conversation, please check out our website: rainbowlegacies.org, or email me at: james@rainbowlegacies.org

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